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Google Pixel 2 vs Pixel 3 in 2021: Is It Time To Upgrade Yet?

author Luis Silva (March 2020 Updated: May 2021 - 8 min. reading time)

The Pixel 3 is more expensive than the Pixel 2, but it also has better specs.

It comes with better performance (+25%).

Anything else?

The Pixel 3 also features a larger (+0.5") display, faster-charging speeds (18w vs. 10w), and wireless charging.

In the end, it's up to you as they achieved a pretty even score.

But how much more will I have to pay for the Pixel 3?

If you're considering a new and unlocked smartphone, you'll have to invest an additional amount close to $162.

Is it worth getting the Pixel 2 in 2021?

The Pixel 2 is a good value for the money in 2021, but I can't recommend it. There are better options out there, like the Apple iPhone SE 2, as it's a much better choice since you'll get better performance, more security updates, and faster charging.

Is the Pixel 3 still worth getting in 2021?

It's 2021, and you're considering the Pixel 3, a phone from 2018. You should think about it. OK, it has good performance and a good camera, but you could have better performance and more security updates. You must have heard of (again) the Apple iPhone SE 2.

Keep reading to learn more about what sets them apart, how they fare against their competition, and how the tech industry is evaluating their specs.

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Google Pixel 2, Google Pixel 3

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Unsplash


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Google introduced its Pixel 3 model in November of 2018. Meanwhile, Google's Pixel 2 started to sell in October of 2017.

We've run down the specs, design, price, and much more in this guide to help you choose between the Pixel 2 and the Pixel 3.

You'll rarely (if ever) find these two with the same price tag. Remember that when you're comparing the two models.

Warning: Please, refrain from purchasing the Pixel 2, as it isn't being updated anymore.

For each featured section, there's a "Tek-Score" for you to check. For a quicker analysis of how far they are from each other, we'll consider all their specifications. You'll find a global score at the end, which can help you compare to other phones if you're curious about other models aside from these two.

The weight of each section

We've based our score on a study from Globalwebindex.com about the most wanted features from people looking to buy new smartphones. But you'll get a say in the matter by setting it to whatever you like. Click here to skip everything, but I suggest you keep reading to know more about them.

For additional information regarding our smartphone comparisons, check this FAQ.

You're going to find a red or green bar next to some features. It's for you to know how well they compare with other smartphones with similar prices.

Here is their competitors' extensive list: but we've only included smartphones within a 40% price range.

Some items are clickable, and they'll get you to the related top 10 listings for any budget.

Device Pixel 2 Pixel 3
Release Date 2017, October 2018, November 1y.
OS Updates 3 years 3 years 0y.
Security Updates 3 years 3 years 0y.

*Reference: 100: Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.

Which One Has The Best Performance?

Geekbench 5 scores the Pixel 3 25% ahead of its sibling in the multi-core ranking. It's something to consider, but it shouldn't be a deal-breaker.

Regarding their chipset, while the Google Pixel 3 comes with the Snapdragon 845 SoC, the Google Pixel 2 has the Snapdragon 835 SoC.

If you're a gamer, you'll like to know that the former features an Adreno 630, and the latter has an Adreno 540.

Android 8 (Oreo) runs out-of-the-box on the Pixel 2, and the Pixel 3 has Android 9 (Pie).

Features Pixel 2 Pixel 3
SoC Snapdragon 835 Snapdragon 845
Graphics Adreno 540 Adreno 630
Geekbench 5 Score 1503
OS Android 8 (Oreo) Android 9 (Pie)

*Reference: 100: Apple iPhone 12.

Which Phone Has The Best Display?

Google Pixel 2 front transparent png Google Pixel 3 front transparent png

There isn't a winner here, so you have to decide for yourself.

The Pixel 3 features a 5.5" AMOLED display, while the Pixel 2 has a smaller 5.0" AMOLED display. There's no general contest here as each user has his personal preferences. AMOLED has perfect contrast and viewing angles, but its whites do hurt the battery life.

The display of the Pixel 3 has a resolution of 1080x2160 Full HD. The Pixel 2, in its turn, has 1080x1920 Full HD.

No one likes to look at a shattered screen, so be aware: Both have a Corning Gorilla Glass 5 display.

Good news for those who value an Always-On display: both phones have it.

If you're looking for the brightest display, they share a maximum brightness of 430 nits.

If a device can't go over 500 nits, it can't do true HDR, nor is that great on a sunny day. Speaking of HDR content: The Pixel 3 does supposedly support HDR video formats.

When considering the Pixel 2, you should know that none of its competitors can play HDR content, nor include an AMOLED display, nor have over 60hz of refresh rate, nor feature Gorilla Glass 6 or Victus.

To give you a clear impression of the Pixel 3, only 20% of its competitors can play HDR content, and none of them have over 60hz of refresh rate, nor feature Gorilla Glass 6 or Victus.

Display Density (DPIs)*
Features Pixel 2 Pixel 3
Size 5.0
Resolution (px) 1080x1920
Refresh Rate 60hz 60hz 0
Dots per Inch 440.58
Always-On-Display Yes Yes
Notch - -
Peak Brightness 430 nits
450 nits
Sub Tek-Score
Protection Corning Gorilla Glass 5 Corning Gorilla Glass 5

*Reference: 100: Sony Xperia 1 II.

Which Phone Has The Best Cameras?

Google Pixel 2 back transparent png Google Pixel 3 back transparent png

In real-world usage, you shouldn't see significant differences between these two cameras.

Things are different when it comes to lenses. Google's Pixel 2 can record videos at up to 2160p. It also has a shooter with 12 Megapixels, an aperture of f/1.8, a 27mm wide-angle lens, two flash LEDs, HDR capabilities, and Optical Image Stabilization.

Its selfie camera features an 8 MP sensor with an f/2.4 aperture and a 27 mm wide-angle lens.

DXOMARK reviewed this camera and gave it 103 points. Then, if you consider its digital zoom abilities, you'll end up with a score of 109**. For a thorough review, click here.

PS: all of its rivals have an ultra-wide-angle lens. Though none of them come with a telephoto lens, nor come with Optical Image Stabilization.

The Pixel 3 features a 12 Megapixels (f/1.8) shooter and a 28mm wide-angle lens. You can also count on two flash LEDs, HDR abilities, and Optical Image Stabilization. It also records videos at up to 2160 pixels.

You can get selfies with 8 MP Megapixels. It has a lens with f/1.8 of aperture and a 28 mm wide-angle lens.

DXOMARK has rated this camera with a score of 106. By adding its digital zoom abilities, this score goes up to 112** points. If you want to know more about it, check it here.

Lastly, just to let you know, just like the other device, 80% of its rivals can record videos in 4 or 8K, and all have an ultra-wide-angle lens. Moreover, none of them come with a telephoto lens, and only 20% of them come with Optical Image Stabilization.

**You should give this score a margin of error of up to 6 points, especially with cameras with less than 40MP and no telephoto lens. They moved to a new camera test protocol, and I need more reviewed devices to fine-tune older scores.

Picture Quality*
Primary Camera Pixel 2 Pixel 3
Megapixels 12
Aperture 1.8
Lens 27mm
Lens Type Wide-Angle Regular
Flash 2 2 0
HDR Yes Yes
OIS Yes Yes
Video 2160 2160 0
Score 109 112

*Reference: 100: Huawei Mate 40 Pro.

Extra Camera(s) Pixel 2 Pixel 3 vs.
Megapixels - -
Aperture - -
Score 6 6 0
Selfie Camera Pixel 2 Pixel 3 vs.
Megapixels 8
Aperture 2.4
Lens 27mm 28mm 1
Pixel 2 Pixel 3 vs.

Who has the best frame?

The Pixel 3 does stand out because of its water resistance and looks.

They ended up with different widths (69 mm / 2.72 inches vs. 68 mm / 2.68 inches), but they share the same height: 145 mm (5.71 inches).

When it comes to thickness, there's no difference here: 7 mm (0.28 inches).

The glass rear on these phones makes them feel great on the hand. Both also have about the same weight: 143 g. (5.04 oz). If you're looking for a lightweight device, the Pixel 2 has a "weight to screen size" score of 5.5, which implies it has an acceptable score for a 5.0 inches display. The Pixel 3, in its turn, has 6.9, which is pretty nice.

If you like having color options, you can buy the Pixel 2 in Kinda Blue, Clearly White, and Just Black. The Pixel 3, in its turn, comes in Clearly White, Not Pink, and Just Black.

You're out of options in the size domain, so there ain't much to see here.

Do you value a fingerprint scanner? Both phones have one.

You can drop the Pixel 2 into the water, up to 1 meter deep, but the Pixel 3, on the other hand, is up to 1 to 3 meters. That shouldn't last over half an hour, in standby mode, so no underwater photos.

Body Pixel 2 Pixel 3
Size 145 x 69 x 7 mm
(5.11 x 2.43 x 0.25 in)
145 x 68 x 7 mm
(5.11 x 2.40 x 0.25 in)
Weight 143 g. (5.04 oz)
148 g. (5.22 oz)
Build Front and back glass Front and back glass
Colors Kinda Blue, Clearly White, and Just Black Clearly White, Not Pink, and Just Black
Screen To Body Ratio 68.88%
Disp.Size To Weight Score 5.5 6.9 1.4
Looks 4.9/10 7.3/10 2.4
Waterproof IP67 IP68
Biometrics Fingerprint Fingerprint

*100% = 4+ colors + front and back glass + S2BR: 86+%.

Which has the best battery?

At 2700 mAh, the Pixel 2 is the owner of the smallest battery, while the Pixel 3 features 2915 mAh. But as claimed by GSMArena, both should theoretically get the same battery life.

If you do a full charge, this is how the Pixel 2 comes out of it:

  • By talking for 1 hour, browsing the web for 1 hour, and playing videos for 1 hour, you should have 77% of the battery left for the rest of the day.
  • If you do 1 hour of talking, 3 hours of web browsing, and 1 hour of video playback, this phone should end up with 61%.
  • After 1 hour of talking, 1 hour of web browsing, and 3 hours of video playback, the phone will have 59% left for the rest of the day.

And this is where the Pixel 3 ends at:

  • By talking for 1 hour, browsing the web for 1 hour, and playing videos for 1 hour, you'll have 77% of the battery remaining.
  • From 1 hour of talking, 3 hours of web browsing, and 1 hour of video playback, you'll get down to 57% left.
  • If you do 1 hour of talking, 1 hour of web browsing, and 3 hours of video playback, you'll be with 59%.

The Pixel 2 features quick charging at up to 10w, but the Pixel 3 does it too, at 18w.

If you love wireless charging, the Pixel 3 can charge at 5w/hour.

Features Pixel 2 Pixel 3
Capacity (mAh) 2700 2915 215
1h Talk + 1h Web + 1h Video 77% left
77% left
1h Talk + 3h Web + 1h Video 61% left
57% left
1h Talk + 1h Web + 3h Video 59% left
59% left
Bat. To Phone Size Score 6.6 7.0 0.3
Sub Tek-Score
Fast Charging 10w
Wireless Charging No 5w

*Reference: 90: Samsung Galaxy A31.

Which has more storage?

None of them has.

Google put 4GB of RAM and 64GB of built-in storage on the Pixel 2. There's no extra storage here. While it shouldn't be a deal-breaker, you should keep that in mind when purchasing one.

In its turn, the Pixel 3 also has 4GB of RAM and 64GB of integrated storage. It also doesn't have a MicroSD slot. If you're a power user, keep that in mind.

Most people should be OK with only 64 GB of internal storage. However, if you can't get enough of the record button, you'll find out that 64 GB won't be enough for you.

Features Pixel 2 Pixel 3
Internal (GB) 64GB
Micro SD No No

*Internal Storage + 256GB Memory Card (Max: 512GB).

Which is the most connectivity-friendly?

These two do look alike sometimes.

Both devices feature the standard Bluetooth 5.0 module. Both phones also have NFC.

About the 3.5mm jack: Now may be the time to consider moving to wireless earbuds. You may go for an adapter as a last resort, but it really isn't the same.

These two are LTE compatible.

Features Pixel 2 Pixel 3
Network LTE LTE
Bluetooth 5.0
NFC Yes Yes
3.5mm jack No No

Which is more affordable?

You're likely not considering the Pixel 2 to make all your pennies count. But do search for any deals or price drops before making up your mind. Indeed, the Google Pixel 3 may cost you more, but it still may be more valuable.

Let's see if it really worths it or not.

You're not looking to purchase the older model, are you?

Here are the best prices that we've found:

Google Pixel 2

Reference: $150

Google Pixel 2

Google Pixel 3

Reference: $312

Google Pixel 3

I earn a small fee from qualifying purchases. It doesn't affect the price you pay nor my opinions, but it will mean a lot if you click on one of these buttons before purchasing your next phone (or whatever else you end up buying). You'll be helping to take this to the next level.

Prices on eBay are in $US but Europe-based. You can click to check the prices in your country.

Prices marked with ! are from renewed/refurbished/carrier-locked phones (except eBay prices that, as a last resort, can be from bids or used devices).

How much of a "phone" can your money buy?
That's how much "score" you can get with $100 based on the global score that you'll see in the next section (higher is better).

Have you found better prices elsewhere? The formula is simple: score/price*100.

Value for money Pixel 2 Pixel 3 VS
Amazon 5.29 ! 2.87 -
eBay - - -
Best Buy - - -
Walmart 5.72 ! 1.88 -

Also, don't forget to check the latest deals from these four stores, and the state of the art on mobile technology, if you don't want to overpay on your next smartphone.

Related articles:

Best smartphone deals

The Best Unbiased Smartphones For All Budgets

Smartphone Specs Statistics: The State Of The Art (Q1 2021)

Are you also considering other options? The global score can help. Just so you have an idea, take a look at where its adversaries average. The Pixel 2 class is at 5.2, and the Pixel 3 5.3.

Verdict: What Makes the Google Pixel 3 Stand Out?

You can find a renewed Pixel 2 for as cheap as $100, but I do hope you're considering an upgrade instead because the Pixel 3 does stand out in this comparison, although not that much. You do get better looks, increased performance, and an extra 0.5" on its display for the same physical size.

Be aware that these phones only have one camera. It's a very decent one, nevertheless. But you'll miss a telephoto or a wide-lens shooter.

It may be a gimmick for most, but the lack of the Night Sight Mode on the Pixel 2 may be a deal-breaker to some.

Pros Pixel 2 Pixel 3
#2 Always-On-Display Always-On-Display
#3 Cameras Cameras
#4 Fast Charging Fast Charging
#5 Price Wireless Charging
Cons Pixel 2 Pixel 3
#1 Wireless Charging MicroSD Slot
#2 MicroSD Slot 3.5mm Jack
#3 3.5mm Jack
Relative Score*
Global Score Pixel 2 Pixel 3
Gaming Score
Your Score

Scroll the sliders down below to get your own personalized score. Let's suppose you value performance and battery life, and you don't really care about anything else. Then, just set the "Performance" and the "Battery" sliders up to 5 (5+5=10), and then the other sliders down to 0. You'll know what's the best phone for you.

Performance 1.9
Display 1.7
Cameras 1.4
Frame 0.9
Battery 1.9
Storage 2.0
Connectivity 0.4
Total Should be 10 or as close as possible: 9.6

*Reference: 100: Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.

For suggestions and bug reports, click here. Your help is appreciated. Thank you.

If you want to know more about them, click here:

About me


My name is Luis Silva, and I have a degree in computer management. Ever since I was a teenager, I've loved everything to do with tech. Music, pictures, video editing, I've done it all! This site is a place for me to share some of the knowledge I have, as well as keep up-to-date with current trends. This is a wonderful place for tech-geeks and everyone else that just want to learn more about tech and smartphones in general.

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Google Pixel 2 Related Comparisons

Google Pixel 3 Related Comparisons


Tek-Score explained

Every spec has it's own weigh on the global score.

Feature: Value
Battery Life: 1.28
Fast Charging: 0.31
Wireless Charging: 0.19
Reverse Charging: 0.08
Storage: 1.97
Performance: 1.86
Camera: 1.35
Glass protection: 1.08
Weight: 0.35
Waterproof: 0.35
AMOLED: 0.04
Always-On-Display: 0.31
DPI: 0.12
Refresh Rate: 0.04
Nits: 0.04
Notch: 0.04
Bluetooth: 0.08
NFC: 0.12
3.5mm jack: 0.19
Looks: 0.23
Total: 10

But there are a few things that I don't consider, like price, brand value, size, resell value, OS (iOS or Android), user experience, updates, RAM (included on performance), battery to phone size, display size to weight, network (LTE/5G), and biometrics.


Progress bars explained

#1: A big red progress bar means that this value is way below the average. In this case, it's 28.85MP, and the iPhone XR is 16.85MP below the average.

#2: In this example, the XR is just 0.36mm below the average, that's why the red bar is almost unnoticeable.

#3: On the other hand, the SE 2 is 1.8mm above (hence, the green bar) the 26.2mm of average.

#4: Performance-wise, the SE 2 is well above the average (of 2512) for its price range. That's the reason the green bar is that long.


"Display size to phone weight" ratio explained

This indeed is a "display size to phone weight" ratio, but because every phone ended up somewhere between 0.0272 and 0.0421, I've amplified (adapted) those values so they would fit in a 0-10 scale. As of now, the best smartphone is the Samsung Galaxy A40, with 140g. (4.94 oz) for a 5.9 inch display. It got a score of 9.92. While the worse device is the iPhone 8 Plus, which weighs 202 g. (7.13 oz) and has a 5.5-inch display. It ended up with a score of 0.75.

Please, be aware that this score is subject to change if and when a new smartphone comes along that ends up being outside of this scale.


"Battery to device size" ratio explained

This score should give you an idea about the energy footprint of the devices you're considering. It reflects not only the hardware and the energy that it requires but also the amount of energy that the battery can deliver.

The major spenders on any device should be the display and the SoC. But everything from a notification led to its modems need to be optimized, or else, the OEM should simply include a bigger battery as a compensation. Unfortunately, it isn't always possible due to size limitations. But in the end, if a particular OEM can do a good job and give you excellent battery life on a small device, so should everyone else. That's why I've added a "battery to device size" ratio. But since the real scale went from 119 (for the Galaxy S10e, Snapdragon variant) and up to 164 (for the iPhone 7 Plus), I've decided to convert them so they would fit in a 0-10 scale, being 0 the worst device, (the iPhone 7 Plus) and 10 the one every OEM should look up to.

As an example, Apple did an excellent job on the iPhone 7. It has a score of 8. Despite having a small capacity, the hardware is well optimized, and it still gives you decent battery life considering its size. The iPhone 7 Plus, on the other hand, with those bezels shrinking its display size, clearly could've been the #1 in our top 10 list of best battery devices if Apple simply filled all that empty space with a bigger battery.

As a side note: I haven't included the dept of the devices in this formula because even if a device ended up being 1mm/0.03 inches thicker, it wouldn't matter that much to those who really value battery life.

Please, be aware that this score is subject to change if and when a new smartphone comes along that ends up being outside of this scale.



As of now, these are the rivals that were considered for each of them. They may change every time its prices are updated.

These are the lowest prices found on Amazon, eBay, BestBuy, and Walmart.

 Google Pixel 2 
  • XiaomirivalRedmi Note 8
  • Realmerival5 Pro
  • XiaomirivalRedmi Note 7

 Google Pixel 3 
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy A70
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy A30
  • XiaomirivalRedmi Note 8 Pro
  • XiaomirivalRedmi Note 8
  • ApplerivaliPhone 6s
  • XiaomirivalMi A3
  • Realmerival5 Pro
  • OnePlusrival6
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S8
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy A31
  • OnePlusrivalNord N10

Battery results

The battery score is based on Gsmarena's endurance rating and is taken with a screen brightness of 200 nits and a refresh rate of 60hz.

Assumptions: The display is off during a call, there's a web page refresh every 10 seconds, and the video playback is in Airplane mode.

You can click here for more information about those tests.


Formula deviation

Since the guys at DxoMark don't review every camera out there, I've come up with a formula based on the ones that they do rate, so I could get an equivalent score for the ones they don't review. After testing it against these cameras, I got the deviation between that and their DxO score.

Device: DxOScore Deviation
Samsung Galaxy A50: 88 -1
Apple iPhone XR: 104 1
Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro: 108 -7
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro: 87 1
Sony Xperia 1: 99 -1
Sony Xperia 5: 101 1
Samsung Galaxy Note 8: 100 0
Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus: 126 2
Apple iPhone 8 Plus: 96 -3
Xiaomi Pocophone F1: 92 -1
Apple iPhone 7 Plus: 90 -1
Apple iPhone X: 101 3
Apple iPhone 11: 112 -1
Samsung Galaxy Note 8: 100 0
Samsung Galaxy Note 9: 107 1
Apple iPhone XS Max: 110 -2
Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max: 124 1
Samsung Galaxy S10: 124 2
Apple iPhone XS: 110 -1
Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus: 120 -2
OnePlus 7 Pro: 122 0
OnePlus 7T Pro: 122 0
Huawei P30 Pro: 125 -1
Google Pixel 4: 117 0
Google Pixel 3: 103 0
Google Pixel 2: 100 0
Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus: 127 -2
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra: 132 2
OnePlus 6: 100 0
OnePlus 6T: 101 1
Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus: 105 -1
Huawei Mate 20 Pro: 120 0
Xiaomi Mi 9: 115 0
Huawei Mate 30 Pro: 132 0
Huawei P40 Pro: 140 -1
Apple iPhone SE 2: 101 0
OnePlus 8 Pro: 126 0
Xiaomi Mi 8: 105 1
Samsung Galaxy A71: 89 1
Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro: 134 0

As you can see, most cameras sit between 1 and -1, while a few of them go up to 2 or -2. That means it's reasonable to assume other similar cameras that they don't review to, in the worst-case scenario, be anywhere from -2 to 2 points from the score that the formula gets.

For example: Given that the Pixel 4 got 117 points and that the Pixel 4 XL share the same year and camera specs, it's reasonable to expect a score of 117 too. But in reality, if they do review that camera, it may end up anywhere between 115 and 119.

Be aware that at DxO, they give a score based on their opinion, not based on any formula. That's why I think there's an odd difference of 6 points between the iPhone 8 Plus and the iPhone X. In theory, they should have the same camera.

I'm guessing that the Mi 9T Pro got a deviation of 7 points because they tested its Chinese variant (the K20 Pro).

Update: They just changed their protocol to include preview image evaluation and trustability. I'm keeping the old table (for now) for reference purposes, and I'll be adding a new one as soon as they review at least a couple of new mclass-range cameras.

You can expect the same (or a bit bigger) deviation for high-end cameras, but anything with a score below 100-110 should be taken with a grain of salt.

This is valclass for all cameras tested with the previous protocol. For those that they dclassn't test, the deviation may be up to twice as much.



With regards to AMOLED screens, sometimes OEMs claim higher maximum brightness. That's because an AMOLED screen can push its brightness progressively higher as its white area gets smaller.

These values are from the lab tests made by GSMArena, and their white test pattern takes up 75% of the physical size of the screen.


About GeekBench 5

This is just a quick note to let you know that, if, by any chance, the smartphone you're looking for isn't on the GeekBench site yet, you can check on GsmArena.com, as they also usually test smartphones with that benchmark tool.

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